The 4 Best Strategies to Retain Engineering Talent

As 2019 comes to a close, it’s doubtful that anyone has been able to doge the headlines about the nation-wide shortage of engineering talent. If somehow your superhuman reflexes or lack of internet service have kept you in the dark, sorry, but your time is up—we’ll tell you now. 

The engineering talent shortage has emerged as a top risk factor for organizations as engineers rank among the top hardest jobs to fill in the US year after year. A variety of factors have converged, ranging from shrinking immigration, an aging workforce, to a decline in STEM interest, creating a hiring landscape where the number of open jobs vastly outnumbers the number of available candidates. 

Because of this, companies are scrambling to outcompete one another to vie for a limited amount of top engineering candidates, juicing up offers and sweetening benefits packages to position themselves as the premier destination. 

In such an ultra-competitive, candidate-driven market, retaining the top performers an organization already employs has become a key point of strategic emphasis. 

We’ll share some of the best strategies to retain engineering talent today so you can make sure your efforts are as up-to-date and competitive as possible.

Communicate opportunities for career progression

As with any profession or industry, clear opportunities for growth and professional development are key drivers of employee engagement, particularly so for engineers—the most common reason cited when they choose to call it quits with their current company is a lack of an opportunity for advancement. 

As an employer, be sure to communicate the avenues of progression available to your top performers. Simply having a plan for advancement isn’t enough; consistently talking with your employees about that plan, actively listening to their future career goals, and functioning as their ally to obtain them through your organization are all necessary steps to ensure they don’t leave in search of greener pastures.

Turnover is inevitable, and it’s impossible to predict every variable that may make someone chose to move on. Still, it never should be because you failed to communicate paths for career progression, especially if they indeed exist. 

Lean in on your culture

In a hiring landscape where candidates hold most of the cards, engineers are often fielding multiple job offers simultaneously and are well aware of their worth. Having little trouble receiving the salaries they ask for, these in-demand candidates place an increasing amount of importance on a company’s culture to help them isolate which offer they accept.

Ask yourself: Does our company take the time to recognize our employee achievements? Do we embody the values we claim to have, or do we just claim to have them? Do we support our employees when personal/professional issues arise?

All of these questions (and much more) help to define and establish a sense of culture. But beyond just a definition, your culture needs to be actively put in to practice to truly resonate with everyone who encounters it—it’s easy for modern candidates to sniff out culture pretenders. 

Take the time to identify the values you and your employees share that make your workplace special and then develop a gameplan to effectively practice and promote those values. People aren’t just working solely for a paycheck anymore, and differentiators like culture have more stock now than ever before. 

Benefits and perks

Aside from culture, candidates are increasingly selecting job offers at organizations that offer the kind of benefits they’re looking for. Compensation will, of course. always be important, but more and more professionals will opt to chose for a more alluring work-life balance or enticing benefits even if it means sacrificing a little bit of pay. 

Unlimited PTO plans, working from home flexibility, extended maternity/paternity leave, pet insurance, gym stipends, phone plan stipends, student loan assistance and more are virtually expected by most modern job seekers, and the companies that don’t have robust perk offerings stick out like a sore thumb. 

Assess the benefits you currently offer and analyze how well they reflect with what your employees or the candidates with whom you engage are asking. With so many companies knocking on engineering candidate’s doors, it doesn’t take much for a seemingly happy employee’s eyes to wander. 

Put in some time to evaluate your benefits and ensure they hold their own against the competition. 

Partner with a specialized staffing firm 

Beyond passing the burden of hiring during a talent shortage on to someone else, staffing firms help companies access an expansive network of candidates. But more than just finding qualified candidates, these firms can leverage their experience to help companies find ideal candidates that also align with a unique culture and vision and are ready to commit for the long haul. 
At RHM Staffing, our team of recruiters specializes in connecting engineering talent with great organizations across a variety of specializations and industries. Get in touch with us today to learn how our team can help you overcome whatever hiring challenge your business is facing.